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Paula Sciuk, Fotini Galenes, Richard Christian II, and William C. Maggio at Buffalo Big Print Gallery

"Contrition" by Richard Christian II.


Texture and its varieties are presented in the well-lighted spaces of Buffalo Big Print, the anchoring commercial establishment at the corner of Virginia Place and Allen Street. The works of four visual artists hold pride of place among the photographs and ceramics regularly displayed for sale. These artists each deal with the issue of a surface in a different way, reinforcing each other as a group while remaining singular in clarity of vision.

In the catalog statements for each artist, the words that evoke the work are not always to be taken literally: “story telling,” “armature,” “prayerful,” “visual literacy”—charged words that may provide meaning to especially abstract art and guide a viewer’s way to its appreciation, but which are not prerequisite to engagement with the actually artworks. Artists’ statements are part of the contemporary profile of exhibiting artists, but usually add very little to the enjoyment of artworks, being more about what the artist is at pains to presume a viewer cannot make of their own determination.

Paula Sciuk has been working in large-scale photography concentrating on passages of flowing liquids in undulating, gleaming closeups that recall reflections of oil slicks, gasoline rainbows, and melting sea ice. The scale of these polycarbonate-based photo prints relieve the images of their quotidian reference and, as they run to the edge of the photo sheet, present a sense of indeterminate size. One could be looking into the inky depths of a cup of black coffee or the latest leakage from a pipeline in the Yukon.

Fotini Galanes chooses to render space in a highly ornate style. Her exactingly meticulous drawing process produces an image seemingly caught in an explosive moment rending gouts of gut-like looping strands appearing to evolve organically in rigorously defined welts and vein-like arabesques. The concentration of the artist is almost excruciatingly pure, and the resulting sinews of riven space bring to mind the extravagant filigree of the Late Baroque with all the marvelously gaud and sinister undertones of that period.

William C. Maggio is an artist who has his process well in hand. His large works in black and white paint (acrylic, oil, latex) present an optical field that shimmers with an indistinct depth so that the visual effect reverberates. The striated surface of the work limned in low relief, heavily textured, layered and scarred, provides the viewer with both a stimulating physical and meditative strata to contemplate.

Richard Christian II most recently showed his work at the C. G. Jung Center. I missed his artist’s talk, having wanted to gain insight into aspects of his work that eluded me. Viewing them in the Big Print space, they seemed to lose something of the sepulchral resonance suggested in the former venue. He stretches dark cotton polo shirts on frames. The shirts have been daubed vertically with paint in a brush-textured application of overlaid, jewel-like rivulets of color to produce polychrome pulsations, something reminiscent of earlier painters like Rouault in his insistent facture of means: caking the paint as if the layers of surface accretions alone could lead to a personal spiritual resolution.

The exhibit is on view through November 2.

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